06/24/2013 05:41 EDT | Updated 08/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Mother's plea for return of son's stolen stuffed lion

We'd usually only protect someone's identity to protect their safety, but this is a special case.

We're talking about a nine-year-old boy from Halifax who lost something very special in Vancouver, but would rather not talk about it publicly.

The special something is a stuffed animal — a lion named Puss.

On the surface, it's a story like so many others in Vancouver: an unsuspecting tourist loses valuables to a skilled car thief.

In this case, the family was at the end of their stay in B.C., in Vancouver for just one night after attending a wedding in Sechelt, and took in one last tourist attraction before driving to the airport.

They packed their rented Dodge Caravan with their luggage and drove to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park on Saturday.

The family was there only briefly — from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and while they were taking pictures, someone broke into their van, and picked through their belongings. The thieves stole a laptop an iPad, and a child's MEC backpack. The backpack contained that beloved stuffed lion, as well as an iPad mini the boy had saved up for.

The boy's mother says an Aquarium security officer told her it looked like a professional job. And while she says Vancouver is a physically beautiful city, she’s shocked at the brazen nature of the crime.

The mother says her son is too embarrassed for use to use the family's name, as it’s difficult for a nine-year-old to admit their deep connection to a stuffed animal. She says her son is mature for his age in some ways, but still clings to his childhood, like so many kids his age. He'd had the lion since he was a baby, and it was a source of companionship and comfort. She says her son cried himself to sleep when the family returned to Halifax that night, after putting on a brave face.

The mother says an employee at MEC has offered to replace the backpack, but the lion is, unfortunately, irreplaceable.

The mother doesn't think she'll get that lion back but we'd like to think there's a chance she will.

Maybe the person who stole it reads this. Maybe they threw it away in the park and someone else found it.

Either way, if you see the lion; if you find it, send it to us. We'll send it to the boy. We won't judge him. We hope you won't, either.

If you have any information about the stuffed lion, contact CBC reporter Steve Lus: @cbcsteve on twitter or by email at